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Unforced variations: Apr 2014

Filed under: — group @ 6 April 2014

More open thread. Unusually, we are keeping the UV Mar 2014 thread open for more Diogenetic conversation and to keep this thread open for more varied fare.

296 Responses to “Unforced variations: Apr 2014”

  1. 51
    mgardner says:

    #47 walter,

    Nirvana Fallacy is when only the ‘perfect’ solution is acceptable. Your *observation* that no ‘perfect’ solution has been offered is not a Nirvana Fallacy; it is as you say an observation. The negative tone with respect to other proposals, however, fits the definition quite nicely. If the US and China and the EU enacted serious policies to control emissions, that would not be a ‘global’, UN-voted, solution, but it would be a really Good Thing.

    To carry on the analogy with Obamacare, “but it isn’t single payer” is a similar critique. Why you or Diogenes think others need to be constantly reminded that “good” isn’t “perfect” is puzzling– most of the participants in these discussions seem to be well aware of that.

  2. 52
    Walter says:

    Dear Hank, thank you so much for your very kind advice. The fact is Hank I was responding to a personal reply directed to me here on this thread by mgardner, about a previous comment of mine which was actually a direct response to YOUR own comment namely:
    Hank Roberts says:
    7 Apr 2014 at 5:14 PM
    Various plans have been proposed. I wonder if Kim of the World Bank has looked at _any_ of them, and if so, which ones. Someone has probably blogged a list of them somewhere. Pointers welcomed.

    NOTE: *pointers welcome*

    To whit my reply to YOU included:

    Walter says:
    7 Apr 2014 at 10:14 PM
    Hank “Various plans have been proposed.”
    Excluding Diogenes’ plan, and all other one-offs like that by individual talking heads, be they known high powered individuals, I have seen NO PLANS. […]
    So keep searching Hank for a “Globally Comprehensive” articulated science and economics reality based Plan. I gave up. Good luck! ( smile )

    At the risk of sounding imprudent, may I humbly offer you a little advice of my own, which is that: you take your own advice, walk your own talk, and try to remember that people in glass houses should not be throwing stones.

    Have a great day.

  3. 53
    dhogaza says:


    “Whilst you’re entitled to analyse this situation hypothetically anyway you wish, please note that regarding this “including threats of legal action”, that Frontiers have specifically said there were NO such threats ever made to them by anyone.”

    At least one legal threat is documented.

    You can read a quick quote (e-mails retrieved due to a FOIA request) here:

    That thread, and others, document the fact that at least one such threat was made, regardless of what the journal now claims.

  4. 54
    Icarus says:

    On the subject of global sea level rise: I can understand that ice sheets respond slowly to warming, so they are ‘out of equilibrium’ with the current climate – there would be a lot more ice melt to come, and hence sea level rise, even if we could stabilise global temperature at today’s value (which I know isn’t going to happen). What I don’t understand is why the component of sea level rise which is due to expansion of sea water would not stabilise as soon as global temperature stabilised. Why wouldn’t expansion stop as soon as there was no more rise in ocean heat content?


  5. 55
    Walter Manny says:


    Meanwhile, Frontiers editorial director Costanza Zucca responded to a request for comment we placed last week about the apparent contradiction between the retraction notice and a later statement by the journal. The former said that the journal “did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study,” while the latter said the paper “did not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects.”

    Zucca said: “There is no contradiction between the two statements. The reference to ethical considerations in the original retraction statement is a reference to the ethical clearance for conducting the study given by UWA. The issue was not with the study as such, but with how the paper was written. The paper made it possible to explicitly identify subjects. Frontiers stands by its decision to retract the article, which it considers to have been the right and responsible course of action.”

  6. 56
    SecularAnimist says:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “Anonymity is precisely what is wrong with the Internet. Anonymity encourages trolls.”

    The ClimateProgress site used to allow anonymous comments. There were a few trolls. So they changed the blog to require commenters to sign in using Disqus, Facebook, or some other traceable account. Now there are more troll comments than ever — most from Facebook accounts, using the person’s real name.

    The real trolls don’t want to be anonymous. They want to be famous.

  7. 57
    Walter Manny says:

    dhigaza, you had a pretty good run at me there with the misquote and the snide “whatever”. How about an “oops”? Do I get an “oops”? :)

  8. 58
  9. 59
    Thomas says:

    Iacrus, just like ice sheets which take a long time to reach equilibrium, so does ocean heat content. Especially the heat content of the deep ocean. If surface temperatures were “stabilized” there would still be net heat flux into the oceans for hundreds of years.

  10. 60
    Walter says:

    #53 dhogaza,

    Look I had read that page last week already, ok? Understand?

    Yet you now say “.. document the fact that at least one such threat was made, regardless of what the journal now claims.”

    Walter says:
    7 Apr 2014 at 11:42 PM
    #21 .. “the journal said there were no ethical problems.”
    People spin the whole truth every single day of the week… if they can get away with it. Or even when they cannot.
    They “said it” so it must be true? Oh please!

    For Frontiers also said there were NO threats of litigation … do you “get it” yet, that what I said was 100% accurate about “spin” by Frontiers and by every kind of org placed in such a situation?

    However I don’t accept that someone called FOXGOOSE is a credible source either.

    But given he claims “This ended the matter personally, as far as I was ..” then where is the THREAT today? I have no idea, bar the unspoken suggestion that what the paper does is leave them open to litigation in some form.

    Lewandowsky can beat this up all he wants (that’s his right to put his pov) … but Frontiers have a right to make their own decisions based on their Lawyers advice. In fact it is incumbent upon them to take that advice and fulfill their responsibilities to protect their organisation.

    Whether I agree with their decisions is 100% irrelevant to the point I was making which you have rejected out of hand still.

    I do not have access to the WHOLE Truth of what really happened. Neither does Lewandowsky, and neither do you. Conspiratorial Ideation does not only infect the climate deniosphere! Lewandowsky and many others have the exact same problem they rightly claim (and prove) that others do. I suggest you add yourself to the list. Good luck working it out.

  11. 61
    wili says:

    IIRC, someone on the last open thread (on of the Walters?) claimed that Gore was to blame for the political polarization of the climate issue. This wide spread claim (but apparently one not supported by the data) has recently been reinforced by a NYT editorial that was also full of other mis-information. It has been taken apart by the good folks at Climate Progress:

  12. 62
    Walter says:

    Hank, everyone makes mis-takes and has knee-jerk reactions on social media and discussion boards. What sorts the men from the boys is being able to admit it, and have a good belly laugh about it.

    Walter Manny is in the same boat as I, so I can appreciate his very mature retort: “Do I get an “oops”? :)”

    Not likely Mr Manny. So I am left with only one important thing to say to Hank:


  13. 63
    Walter says:

    #51 mgardner, thanks for the reply. I hear you.

    re “Nirvana Fallacy is when only the ‘perfect’ solution is acceptable.”

    If this is what you think I am on about, then you are mistaken.

    “Why you or Diogenes think others need to be constantly reminded that “good” isn’t “perfect” is puzzling – most of the participants in these discussions seem to be well aware of that.”

    If that is a genuine query M Gardner, and not rhetorical, then I am happy to address it. I just don’t want to waste my time, so please confirm you are willing to listen.

    Here’s a hint (and Diogenes can confirm this is his motivation or not himself): The issue i snot so much about the ‘solutions’ but about defining accurately the precise nature of the problem first.

    Diogenes started his comments here by focusing on the fact that all claims here (and links to good news about alt energy plans/actions submitted here) that renewables can solve the ‘problem’ was a continual denial by those posters as to the extent of the problem itself.

    Diogenes involvement here over the last several weeks/months has actually led to several others shaking off their denial and inhibitions to verbalize the real truth of matters “carbon emissions” and getting more serious and honest about defining the reality by using the science and the facts about energy use etc that are available.

    As such despite all the unfounded criticisms laid upon Diogenes shoulders here by almost all, he has been a great service to the readership, imo. He has also had an effect on the moderators of RC as well who have changed their tunes about the usefulness of discussing mitigation issues and the politics that surrounds that. These matters cannot be separated from the scientific discussions as if they are unrelated subjects.

    This has been a massive step forward for RC and benefits everyone, imo.

    I congratulate Diogenes. people who insist on only seeing the negatives and condemning him here simply do not “get it” yet, and have not actually heard what he has been saying from the get go. Whether his personal opinions for solutions are good or bad or lunacy, is actually beside the point. He knows that, and so did I from the get go. All the knee-jerk emotional reactions got in the way of those who had them. Such is life on social media.

    If you need more clarification or details, and you really are genuine, then please let me know, and I will do my best to help you understand this. Frankly I gave up long ago and consider my posting good quality refs here a total waste of time.

  14. 64
    Walter says:

    Now this I like, because there is nothing like a little external confirmation. A couple of high flyer academics from ANU mirroring my own thoughts, my own personal experience, and several months of blog posts and references.

    10 April 2014
    What science communicators can learn from listening to people

    In making this documentary we’ve been driven by a singular ironic fact – that the facts alone will not bring about a change in attitude and behaviour. Yet those of us looking at the relationship between science and society still need to do more to communicate this fact.

    We still see scientists who desperately want key policy and behavioural changes hoping that clearly stating the facts will win the day.

    In this chapter we draw out how the lessons of the past few decades of science communication practice and research have shown this fallacy for what it is.

    [ie Untrue and Self-defeating ]

    The end result is our documentary Up Stream, available now in four episodes for free and online.

    Enjoy, includes x 4 videos, that are right up your ally Prok of CS :-)

    Enjoy this, I know I have. Best to all …. ( smiling )

  15. 65
    Walter says:

    wili .. re “(on of the Walters?) claimed that Gore was to blame for the political polarization of the climate issue.”

    yes that is I however, you are falsely reframing that incorrectly by using the word BLAME. Check the archives.

    I did not “blame” him, I said that by his involvement with AIT it opened the door even wider to more “political blowback” and that’s what happened…. iow just his face on movie screen was enough to activate wild outrageous reactions … it was an “added” motivation which activated the troops.

    Now I didn’t mention this at the time … but at the same time 2007, if you chekc your history you will see was a period when “social media” came out of the closest and became mainstream.

    So, many things happened at the same time. I did NOT blame Gore, I still do not blame Gore, I simply reported on the history of that event and what came afterwards. I think I used the word “major effect” .. or at least that is what I meant.

    What I also indicated ( I thought quite clearly ) was that Gore was filling a vacuum left by the lack of communication engagement with the public and leaders in the world by the IPCC, and by Climate Scientists in general.

    Why? because it has all the signs of sitting back and just assuming that they would be listened to, and that laying out the simple facts would be enough……. detailing the validity of the science on RC from 2004 etc would be enough. History proves it wasn’t. Gore’s AIT is still a hot spot with deniers all over.

    Then there is this :

    I will look at Romms site, and see what he says. Frankly people’s raw sensitive emotional buttons about such “level headed” unemotional and Non-Blaming comments and points of view this and many other things is quite ….. well words fail me sometimes.

    Earlier today I saw another “professional” article of the history, and the polticial activism against global warming began in the 70’s .. I thought hey, I will share that at RC after someone suggetsed the poltical deniosphere didn;t begin until 2009 and ClimateGate. I thought (for a moment) people might begin to realise their default “beliefs” of this whole critical aspect about “public communication of climate science totally wrong. Then I thought better of it .. why bother?

    If one does not learn from ‘mis-takes’ of the past then what is the point of getting out of bed in the morning?

    Pretending past mis-takes (well intentioned or not) never happened and deny it forever is no solution. Denial of what is, is not limited to anti-climate science types or fossil fuel miners only. ( smile )

  16. 66
    Walter says:×468.jpg

    Well look at the liberal peak in the US in 2006 when AIT came out there. Then look at the ‘trend change’ UP for conservatives beginning in 2006 that extended for two years until falling again.

    The success of AIT to shift public opinion galvanised the deniosphere and their funders/controllers/manipulators. Triggered Heartland’s shift to anti-AGW activism in the public sphere, triggered Monckton public activism, triggered the funding and covert direction for the CRU hack and many others that never made it into the press because they could find nothing.

    Watts established the blog, Watts Up With That? (WUWT?) in 2006. (co-incidence?)

    The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF)was established in November 2009, shortly after the start of the Climatic Research Unit email controversy, and its headquarters occupy a room at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.

    Became outwardly pro-active in late 2007 and into 2008, before the CRU hack. Co-incidence?

    It took some time before the co-ordinated behind the scenes activities had an outer effect on public opinion. But things became ‘deadly serious’ when AIT came out and was successful. It was a rallying cry for the Ayn Rand type troops to get off their butts and do something to save the world from the Liberals destroying it.

    AIT was great, would have had longer lived legs if Sir David Attenborough or similar was the front man. Would have been more effective if a large global group of climate scientists and academic media communication experts supported it (eg a climate science NFP Foundation) to make AITv2 in 2009, AITv3 in 2011, and AITv4 in 2013.

    Unfortunately instead it became a lightening rod for the Deniosphere to this day. I call that a missed opportunity. A BIG one at that. Whatever was gained through the effort of AIT was lost.

    Others will disagree. Fine. It really doesn’t matter anymore. 25 years later, nothing much has really been achieved for all the investment made in Climate Science. Sure the knowledge base has increased, but credible response actions have been poor and at times counter-productive.

    CO2e is still rising as we speak. That’s the only yardstick that counts. Cheers

  17. 67
    Walter says:

    Are you Listening?
    Up Stream Doco Part 4: Looking Forward aka “the science of science communication”


    Looking backward – and coming full circle.
    Quoting: If you still feel that your purpose is directed at the “public and journalists” may I suggest you use your best recent POST from RC, go visit and submit for publication, and then see what kind of responses you get from what is mainly academic level readers from all walks of life, and then ask yourself what % of readers understood what you said/meant.

    It’s not necessary to write ugly, unintelligible prose … just because it’s a technical report.

    I’m pretty sure the nuances of these keywords are lost entirely on media and the public.

    [Quoting Research Paper: The Tragedy of the Risk-Perception Commons: Culture Conflict, Rationality Conflict, and Climate Change] This conflict between individual and collective rationality is not inevitable. It occurs only because of contingent, mutable, and fortunately rare conditions that make one SET OF BELIEFS about risk congenial to one cultural group and an opposing set congenial to another. NEUTRALIZE THESE conditions, we will argue, and the conflict between the individual and collective levels of rationality is resolved. Perfecting our knowledge of HOW to achieve this state should be A PRIMARY AIM OF THE SCIENCE OF SCIENCE COMMUNICATION.

    Responses to that ‘paper’ quoted just above:

    Retrograde Orbit


    Patrick 027

    What you said about “screaming paid stooges” is true. I believe what the Paper was saying is also true. Blending of the two truths plus other aspects and understanding the dynamics as “whole unit” is far closer to representing the “reality” of the “problem” I was seeking to point to.

    SecularAnimist to whit:

    Anonymous Coward to SA “Please desist. It’s not helping either the cause of rational inquiry or the level of discourse here. You might also want to get informed about what’s going on in the rest of the world before pinning global phenomenons on factors specific to some countries.”

    Ray Ladbury retorts

    and Hanks finds another ‘paper’

    Are you listening, yet?

    Up Stream Documentary

    Well, time is up, so good luck with it. ( smile )

  18. 68

    Interesting, if taken with the proverbial grain of salt:

    The last paragraph or two is a horse of a different color; less to do with puffing wind energy (couldn’t resist that pun) and more of a context statement:

    As for the EPA, it’s still not clear what the standards for emissions reductions from existing power plants will look like. The EPA said Friday that it has sent its draft standards to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review, and expects to release those draft standards in June, per President Barack Obama’s climate action plan. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has said that standards will be crafted in a way that allows states to develop their own feasible emission reduction plans through energy efficiency measures and the increased use of renewable energy.

    It’s not yet clear, however, how steep the emissions cuts for existing plants will be. It’s also not yet clear how much of a state’s compliance with the standards will be expected to come from changes inside the power plants — such as efficiency or technology upgrades — or from added capacity via renewables. AWEA argues EPA could “set the standard pretty aggressively” for states to use additional generation from wind and other renewables to comply.

  19. 69
    Eric Swanson says:

    #66 Walter – The denialist campaign was ongoing many years before Gore’s film. Remember The Global Climate Coalition? Their “astroturf” organization was an early attempt to spread political disinformation about the problem of AGW. Other efforts with funding from corporate interests with major investments in the fossil fuel industry, such as Exxon and the Koch brothers, appeared after the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. People such as the Idso’s and John Daley were active on the internet long before 2006. The denialist campaign is timed to coincide with the US election cycle and the approaching end of the Bush administration in 2008 resulted in a major effort, to which you allude.

  20. 70
    Hank Roberts says:

    Looks like pollution near the Equator does more damage globally than pollution emitted in the past at higher latitudes. The atmosphere is more complicated than we counted on, and Paul Crutzen’s hope that we had dodged a bullet by keeping bromine out of the stratosphere was true for the past, but may not be holding up now. We could still lose the ozone layer.

    Thanks to the OH hole that the researchers discovered over the tropical Pacific, greater amounts of brominated hydrocarbons can reach the stratosphere than in other parts of the world. Although their ascent takes place over the tropical West Pacific, these compounds amplify ozone depletion in the polar regions. Since scientists identified this phenomenon and took it into account in the modelling of stratospheric ozone depletion, their models have corresponded excellently with the actually measured data….

    … sulphur dioxide may also reach the stratosphere via the OH hole over the tropical West Pacific, it quickly becomes obvious that the atmospheric elevator over the South Seas not only boosts ozone depletion, but may influence the climate of the entire Earth. In fact, the aerosol layer in the stratosphere, which is also composed of sulphur particles, seems to have become thicker in recent years. Researchers do not know yet whether there is a connection here.

    But wouldn’t it be a stroke of luck if air pollutants from South East Asia were able to mitigate climate warming? “By no means,” Markus Rex vigorously shakes his head. “The OH hole over the South Seas is above all further evidence of how complex climate processes are. And we are still a long way off from being in a position to assess the consequences of increased sulphur input into the stratosphere. Therefore, we should make every effort to understand the processes in the atmosphere as best we can and avoid any form of conscious or unconscious manipulation that would have an unknown outcome.”

    Why wasn’t the OH hole discovered earlier?

    The tropical West Pacific is one of the most remote regions on our planet. That is why extensive measurements of the air composition have yet to take place in this area. There is also a considerable gap in the otherwise dense network of global ozone measurement stations here. Even in the past measurements from the peripheral sections of the now investigated region showed minimal ozone values in the area of the upper troposphere, but not the consistently low values that have now been found across the entire depth of the troposphere. The newly discovered phenomenon reveals itself in its full scope only through the measurements that were conducted to such an extensive degree for the first time and was thus not able to be grasped at all previously.

  21. 71
    DIOGENES says:

    Wili #14,

    “Interviewed ahead of next week’s biannual World Bank meeting, Kim added: “They [the climate change community] kept saying, ‘What do you mean a plan?’ I said a plan that’s equal to the challenge. A plan that will convince anyone who asks us that we’re really serious about climate change, and that we have a plan that can actually keep us at less than 2°C warming. We still don’t have one.

    So is Diogenes really Jim Young Kim???!!!”

    The only thing I wish we had in common is his paycheck!

    But, he is mostly correct about the absence of a plan for climate change amelioration. There are essentially three main categories of proposed actions for climate change amelioration related to ‘plans. First are the proposals for action without any quantitative targets. They constitute the majority of posts on the climate advocacy blogs. I have discussed them before; they are not plans. Kim understands plans; his organization would not consider proposals without myriad quantitative targets across many different types of metrics.

    Second are the high-risk plans. These include plans such as Kevin Anderson’s, McKibben’s, Ceres Clean Trillion, etc. They are high-risk for two reasons. First, the targets of 2 C are viewed by the climate experts as different flavors of Dangerous. Second, there are no contingencies in these plans. What happens if the temperature creeps toward the 2 C target, and we find that the carbon feedbacks are accelerating rapidly, or perhaps are at the point where some have gone on to autopilot? What do we do now, Coach; where is our Plan B? In the corporate world, no CEO worth his salt would EVER propose a plan without contingencies; that is true even in government. In either case, they would not want the risk of the organization going under if Murphy’s Law kicks in. But, in the world of climate change, successful planning principles seem to go out the window. Contingency; who needs that?

    Third are the lower-risk plans. The only two of which I am aware are Hansen’s and mine. They both aim for a safer 1 C target. I include contingency two ways. First, I have stricter demand reduction on the front end, and introduce massive reforestation sooner. This would compensate to some extent for problems that could crop up at a later time during implementation of the plan. Second, I allow for the possibility of geo-engineering if the strong front-end emissions reduction starts to result in an unacceptably fast increase in temperature. We would have to have much of the geo-engineering infrastructure in place if the temperature increase starts to take off. I personally don’t like the idea of geo-engineering at untested global scales, but I like the idea of temperature increasing beyond some critical point even less.

  22. 72
    wili says:

    Diogenes (“born of Zeus” but who’s your mama? ‘-)): at 69–Note also that Kim, not surprisingly, is still devoted to plans that include global economic growth. This seems like another important dividing line between plans–which ones can face the fact that we can’t get anywhere near anything remotely safe in anything like the time we actually have at this point, and also keep growing the global economy. I can’t recall whether Hansen has taken a position on this so far.

    I’m a bit confused by one thing: If Anderson’s plan has a target of the unsafe 2 degrees and is therefore too slow, why is his goal for rate of emissions reduction 10% per year, while Hansen’s is 6-9% per year, iirc. And can we be so sure that reforestation will work? Aren’t climate changes in various regions going to make it very difficult to reestablish forests?

  23. 73
    Hank Roberts says:

    “Earth’s Future” — open access journal from the American Geophysical Union. Those of you writing publishable work might well look into it.

    Brief quote from a (paywalled) interview in the AGU’s EOS newsletter (excerpt also posted over at Stoat in a Policy thread):

    Eos: I’d like to turn to you now, Dr. Norgaard, as Earth’s Future’s resident expert on economics. Traditionally, AGU journals have not covered topics that connect economics to Earth and space science. How do you plan to change that with Earth’s Future?

    Norgaard: Many economists are working to include ecosystem services and natural capital into our economy—and this is okay— but they are not addressing the problems of accelerated economic growth….
    Eos: But why should Earth and space scientists be thinking about economic theory? What are some of the pressing issues in ecological economics?

    Norgaard: … it is the acceleration of human impacts on Earth processes the last few centuries that is really important. The increase in market-based economic activity in the past century has been approximately 15 times greater than population growth. The global economy, in terms of market activity, increased by a factor of 10 in the second half of the 20th century. There is nothing “natural” about this phenomenon. Rather, it is closely tied to how we have built our economies, and that is closely tied to how economists and policy makers, along with the public and economic interests, have understood economics.

    Ecological economists have a lot of issues to work through, as do scholars engaged in other efforts to bridge the disciplines, understand what sustainability means, and be effective….
    —- end quote —-

  24. 74
    Hank Roberts says:

    How easily good intentions get perverted:

    Timber industry lobbyists clinched a nice little victory in Sacramento four years ago, and now forests and the climate are paying the price.
    Under California’s cap-and-trade program, which began in late 2012, timber companies can earn carbon credits by felling forests and chopping down old-growth trees — and then replanting the razed earth with younger trees. Which they will eventually chop down, again, after they have grown. The idea was that the younger trees would suck up a lot of carbon dioxide as they grew. But that flies in the face of scientific findings, published earlier this year in the journal Nature, that older trees are far better than their younger cousins at sucking carbon out of the sky….

    We know better and we keep doing stupid

  25. 75
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Walter @ 66, thanks for those data points. Could you give a link to the article with the graph you linked?

    Asking slightly different questions leads to different graphs, as the many Gallup surveys show. Here is a recent poll with up to date data:

    This seems to indicate a peak partisan difference in 2010, the difference declining slowly through this year. Discussion of this poll:

    Other recent Gallup polls on climate change attitudes:

    Still more of them:

    A poll from a year ago:
    The graphs in this poll clearly differ for slightly different questions.

  26. 76
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    That poll discussion link in my previous post highlights a curious relation between press and perceptions. And speaking of the press, here is Eli’s latest Breakthrough.

  27. 77
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Beyond “If you see something say something.”

    Climate scientists are under attack like never before for telling the truth about about the growing dangers posed by unrestricted carbon pollution.

    Anyone who wishes can help climate scientists in their quest to provide humanity the information we need to save ourselves by supporting the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF). To find out how, go here.

    Eight years ago this week, Time magazine launched the bluntest cover story on climate change ever published by a major news outlet. Like the best science journalism, it was based on interviews with many of the world’s leading climate scientists. The article’s online sub-hed was especially blunt:

    Polar Ice Caps Are Melting Faster Than Ever… More And More Land Is Being Devastated By Drought… Rising Waters Are Drowning Low-Lying Communities… The climate is crashing, and global warming is to blame. Why the crisis hit so soon–and what we can do about it.

    For a time it seemed as if the public and policymakers were actually listening, as awareness of the climate crisis grew and leading politicians from both parties called for action. Then came the the vicious backlash — the most successful disinformation campaign in history, funded by fossil fuel companies and making use of tactics developed by the tobacco industry. Scientists were vilified and cyber-bullied.

    Scientists are far more worried than they were in 2006 — since emissions have soared, and the overwhelming majority of recent studies show the reality of climate change is far worse than what we suspected a decade ago — see this review of over 60 studies. See also the uncharacteristically blunt 2014 report from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as the 2013 report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC’s next report, due out this weekend, appears no less alarming.

    And because the stakes are higher, the intimidation and cyber-bullying of climate scientists continues unabated. Doing something about it is easy, though.

    Climate Progress readers have been among the biggest supports of the important work of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF). Prof. Scott Mandia explains what supporters have helped accomplish so far:

    Raised litigation fees to help Dr. Michael Mann defend climate science from politically-motivated witch-hunts.
    Provided resources to legal experts from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) so they could offer free legal advice to scientists at professional conferences.
    Offered legal counsel to scientists hit with frivolous Freedom of Information Act requests — Andrew Dessler and Katharine Hayhoe, two of the country’s finest climate scientists.
    Provided legal workshops to scientists at professional conferences.
    Offered a series of legal education webinars partnering with American Geophysical Union (AGU).

    But this has all been done by Mandia and Joshua Wolfe “from their kitchens.” They both have “full-time jobs and families with small children and neither receives compensation for their time.”

    So now they would like readers’ support to “go professional” to “hire a full-time Executive Director who will manage the day-to-day operations of providing legal help to our experts as well as increasing fundraising efforts. Having the full-time professional helps to assure that CSLDF will be there for our scientists years down the road. After all, climate change is not going anywhere and the sad fact is that neither will the legal attacks on our scientists.”

    Scientists are the thin blue line helping protect us from a world ruled by superstition and “might makes right.” If anyone wants to know how they can help climate scientists, they can go here.

    Not bad! Of course, “If you see something say something” remains a good idea as well.

  28. 78
    jg says:

    This constant use of “subjects” is so incredibly misleading as to be beyond belief. Analyzing public, voluntarily published speech “so that the individual speaker might be individually identified” is in no way to engage in an experimenter-subject relationship.

    Perhaps the authors should have cited each public statement in the reference section, though that may have gotten unwieldy. But public speech voluntarily put into the public domain by the speaker is by definition not private, protected speech. This violates no aspect of copyright law or research ethics that I can remotely imagine.

  29. 79
    Radge Havers says:

    Pete @~ 77
    Climate of attack, more food for thought recently in the news:

    Of major cable outlets, two out of three continue to let anti-science ideology dominate coverage of global warming

    “Though numerous media surveys and studies have shown that mainstream news outlets have consistently ignored or underreported the crisis of climate change over the last two decades, a new analysis released Monday shows that even when the top cable news channels do cover the issue, they consistently misinform their viewers on the facts.”

    Changing our Climate of Indifference

    “Trying to tell these stories as a journalist makes me sometimes wonder why I even bother. I’ve been told flat out by editors that their readers are burnt out on depressing climate crisis stories. They don’t want to print a story that contains nothing but bad news.” 

    Who rules?

    Gilens and Page analyze 1,779 policy outcomes over a period of more than 20 years. They conclude that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”


    “We’ve never thought that there was a small flaw in their business plan that could be altered by negotiation; we’ve always thought their business plan was to keep pouring carbon into the atmosphere. And indeed Exxon’s statements are easy to translate: “We plan on overheating the planet, we think we have the political muscle to keep doing it, and we dare you to stop it.” And they’re right — unless we build a big and powerful movement, they’ll continue to dominate our political life and keep change from ever taking place.

    “So now, with that information clearly on the table, it’s time for college boards and foundation heads, church denominations and city mayors to act and act firmly. By divesting — by announcing that they are breaking ties with these companies — they will begin the process of politically bankrupting them. Of taking away the social license that allows them to act with such consummate arrogance, on the very day that the planet’s scientists laid bare the impact of climate change on everything from crop yields to civil wars.”

  30. 80
    Radge Havers says:

    Sorry for the bad link.

    Changing our Climate of Indifference can also be found at:

    (links without ‘www’ seem to break here)

  31. 81
    Hank Roberts says:

    Aside, I quoted above

    Under California’s cap-and-trade program, which began in late 2012, timber companies can earn carbon credits by felling forests and chopping down old-growth trees

    Seems to me that’s another version of the phenomenon described by the “Breakthrough” folks in the NYT:

    conservatives become less skeptical about global warming if they first read articles suggesting nuclear energy or geoengineering as solutions.

    But I think they misunderstand — or misexplain — why.

    People who know what they want to see done will accept any reasoning or unreasoning excuse to have it done – because, believe it or not, they find any reason whatsoever convenient to get the result.

    It’s what _they_ argue the so cia lists are doing to grab their wallets, ya know? Any excuse. Because they can’t believe science tells us constraints that apply regardless of politics.

    It’s the same attitude that gives us “lower taxes, less regulation” as the proposed solution to _every_ public policy problem — they don’t care about the problem, they like any excuse to promote their solution to everything.

    Solutions? Universal: “aqua regia” and “royal libertarianism” are promoted as solving everything needing solution.

  32. 82
    Phil L says:

    Hank Roberts @ 74:
    You neglected to mention that the link you provided contains this statement, “The findings don’t contradict the prevailing notion that young forests are better overall at sucking up CO2 than are old-growth forests. That’s because younger forests contain so many more trees.”
    i.e. You’re not seeing the forest for the tree.
    The article goes on to say, “That said, it’s still best for the climate that we leave those aging stands in place because cutting them down would unleash the carbon they spent their lifetimes absorbing.” However that statement assumes that the carbon will be immediately vapourized, rather than sequestered for long periods of time.
    Do you have any thoughts on the article by Oliver et al. (2014) that I pointed out above at #38?

  33. 83
    Radge Havers says:

    ‘Communication’ as a difficult issue for scientists is not a new topic in RC comment threads. To be fair to scientists, they are generally pretty good at communicating with their peers. That’s the audience they know, that’s the audience they’re trained for. First law of communication: Know your audience. When in front of a lay audience in a short TV news segment, for example, Hansen has gotten better, though I have seen him wander into the weeds.

    Now keeping in mind the dicta “Know your audience,” would you think that simply badgering and bashing a group of scientists radio talk show style would be particularly engaging or helpful? And, wow, ending a comment with a ‘plonk’ adds nothing useful and says more about the commenter than I’m guessing most of the audience here wants to know.

    Specific, non-dogmatic assists on getting points across is good. It’s actually requested
    ( ). Gassing about communication etc. not so much.

  34. 84
    Hank Roberts says:

    Yeah, I think this

    Maximizing forest CO2 sequestration may not be compatible with biodiversity. More CO2 can be sequestered synergistically in the products or wood energy and landscape together than in the unharvested landscape. Harvesting sustainably at an optimum stand age

    is just clearcutting with a pretty mask.

    Forest = biodiversity
    Trees = crop
    Sustainability = biodiversity
    We don’t know how to sustain _less_ than the biodiversity that develops naturally over time. We don’t know how to take out what we want and leave a sustainable ecosystem; forests overharvested degrade. With more extreme precipitation they’ll degrade faster as climate changes.

    The answer they want is cut trees. They’ll use any argument and claim it supports the answer they already determined to have.,5

  35. 85
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Phil L — 10 Apr 2014 @ 10:59 PM, ~#85

    Given that the total amount of carbon that is locked out of the atmosphere is what counts and there is no contesting the fact that a mature forest stores the most carbon, and that the duration of CO2 in our atmosphere is more than 1,000 years while a large percentage of a harvested tree is vaporized in 10 years, and the rest within 100 years, what’s your point?


  36. 86
    Hank Roberts says:

    Phil, read the report
    “Valuing adaptation under rapid change Final Report”
    linked here, first result on the page: adaptation under rapid change

    Industrial forestry isn’t able to cope with extreme events now; we expect the extremes to get worse with rapid climate change (look at for the paleo case); look at the recent landslide in Washington as an example.

    Biodiversity holds ecosystems together and soil on the land, with a bit of surplus we can harvest carefully.

    Taking more degrades the source, perhaps too slowly to notice for the first century or two. But it’s not the first century of extraction anywhere habitable now, and we’re seeing the consequences of bad management (or not seeing them due to shifting baselines).

  37. 87
    Hank Roberts says:

    broken link, copy and paste the whole line into your search engine: adaptation under rapid change

  38. 88
    Hank Roberts says:

    National Phenology Network: Informing Science & Conservation
    U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
    Good educational presentation here about the development of data collection, tools widely available, methods standardized, and results collected and made public:
    Published on Feb 10, 2014
    (Audio of a phone conference with slideshow)
    — part of the Climate Change Science and Management Webinar Series, co-hosted by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and the FWS National Conservation Training Center.
    Describing what’s developing — standard tools and protocols:‎
    The USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN;

    Got kids to educate? School classes to take outdoors? Any observations of your own?

    This is developing a way of collecting useful observations nationwide.

  39. 89
    Hank Roberts says:

    Cliff Maas — the US House of Representatives has passed a bill, now going to the Senate where it can be amended. It prescribes in astonishing detail (far more detail than the bill’s authors likely understood, so who wrote this language for them?) how NOAA should spend its budget.

    Maas in his discussion leans heavily toward weather forecasting and suggests cutting back several kinds of global climate model in his discussion of what he’d like to see changed in the funding language by the Senate.

    The Weather Forecasting Improvement Acts Passes the House: What are the Implications?

    Seems to be arguing — my paraphrase — “well we know the climate will change, we don’t need to model how it will change, we just need better short term weather predictions so whatever changes won’t surprise us.”

    But his major point is to criticize NOAA’s present problems and point out that the US weather forecast system is inadequate compared to the European system currently in use — which is clearly true.

    I think the real budget pinch is starting to show up everywhere.

  40. 90
    Killian says:

    Third are the lower-risk plans. The only two of which I am aware are Hansen’s and mine.

    Yeah, well, mine has been around since 2011 is the only one that is actually based in sustainability and is not just a climate plan, but a global sustainability plan. Before that I suggested in 2008 a plan to change the entire US over to sustainable energy systems in such a way that would have massively boosted the economy by building out a massively distributed energy grid via individual and community-based local energy production via gov’t $5,000 grants per household. This plan could still be done and would cost 500B, but create far more economy than that.

    Of course, I laid out most of what became Iceland’s response to the debt crisis, including homeowner debt relief instead of banks, letting banks fail, and prosecutions. This also would have been a massive boost to the economy. That after predicting in Jan ’08 the crash of ’08.

    Also around 2008/9 I tried to interest people developing a global climate/energy/collapse model that would have been pretty easy to do. Things similar to my idea have been developed, but far inferior. What I have in mind could actually end up helping us determine a plan… it could model the darned thing in situ.

    Most of this can be found on my blog, A Perfect Storm Cometh. But, hey, what do I know?

    Anywho… Rather than tell you how to fix the world, let me play Socrates and ask some actual and some rhetorical questions:

    1. Why do you talk of solving climate without speaking of solving energy, population, complexity, and ALL dminishing resources? What do you hope to accomplish by touching but one area of the elephant?

    2. Why do you try to talk about solutions without first ever discussing what the characteristics of a sustainable system are? What in the world are you planning *for*?

    2b. Your one-sentence definition of sustainability is probably insufficient, and is but a definition, not a description. It does not tell you much about what sustainability *is*: what it looks like, what it’s patterns are, from what it arises, wrom whom and in what manner it can or cannot be created, etc.

    3. Why are you never discussing the sustainable systems that do exist?

    3b. Why are you never discussing sustainable governance?

    4 Why do your parameters always start with preserving what currently is, rather than starting with a tabla rasa and filling it with what must be, then designing from there?

    5. Why is sustainability ultimately local? (Lots of correct answers here.)

    6. Why do so many expect sustainable systems to emerge from non-sustainable systems, much like expecting an apple to produce an orange?

    7. Have any of you bothered to read Tainter, Diamond?

    8. There are currently sustainably governed (as opposed to sustainable) societies, but there is in particular one modeling that 21st Century societies can do sustainable governance. What is it? Why aren’t we talking to them about sustainable governance?

    They both aim for a safer 1 C target.

    When the climate system for the duration of the Ice Age has not been over 300ppm, why in the world are we playing with fate by accepting a significantly higher energy imbalance? The ASI started melting at 300 – 315. This 1C or 2C or whatever C are all largely arbitrary. We have very clear, very real parameters laid out in 3 millions years of climate. Doe it make sense to ignore this when it is so simple to get back to 300ppm?

    I include contingency two ways. First, I have stricter demand reduction on the front end, and introduce massive reforestation sooner.

    Don’t say “reforestation” because it really means nothing in isolation. Forests exist within larger ecosystems, and humans have been modifying forests since time immemorial. Speak in terms of natural carbon sequestration via forestry, agroforesty, farming and gardening, and more. Basically, carbon farming, which really is just natural, organic farming/gardening. Hansen’s number for sequestration is very low because he is not a designer, so he’s thinking in terms of fixes rather than solutions. But solutions can only come from elements embedded in a broader systemic solution/design.

    We are, FYI, already starting the process of all of this sequestration, so “begin” in your sentence is meaningless.

    Second, I allow for the possibility of geo-engineering if the strong front-end emissions reduction starts to result in an unacceptably fast increase in temperature.

    Um… first, as stated before, your estimates of sequestration are fairly massively underestimated, and the only geoengineering we can be reasonably sure of managing any unintended consequences with are sustainable system design. Since the solution to all aspects of the Perfect Storm is, in fact, sustainable design, why in the world do anything else? If you fail at that you have already failed at your only solution and may as well spend the rest of your days drinking on the beach.

    Comment by DIOGENES — 10 Apr 2014 @ 11:41 AM


  41. 91
    Phil L says:

    Hank Roberts and Steve Fish: There seems to be some confusion about sustainable forestry vs. unsustainable timber extraction practices.
    Forestry in North America has progressed through a number of phases, including exploitation with no regulation, sustained yield management (considering only maximizing timber values), and ecosystem-based forest management (considering timber and other ecosystem values).
    I adhere to the so-called “triad” approach to forest management:
    – a proportion of the landbase excluded from extraction (parks and other ecological reserves);
    – a proportion of the landbase managed intensively using an agricultural model (for economic reasons these are usually close to mills);
    – the largest proportion of the landbase managed extensively, attempting to mimic natural forest processes.
    Hank, you mentioned biodiversity. Biodiversity should be considered at all spatial scales, from the tree to stand to landscape. What Mother Nature has placed in the boreal forest landscape is a mosaic of stands of different species compositions and ages. Woodland caribou and pine marten prefer the old stands, but other species prefer young stands, while other species prefer the habitat conditions found in middle-aged stands. The average fire return interval in the boreal results in a “reverse J” ageclass distribution, with a lot of young stands and few old stands. If forest harvest “rotation ages” are set too low (e.g. targetting small trees for pulpwood), the ageclass distribution can be skewed too much to the younger age classees. Managing for sawtimber requires longer rotations. Managing for maximized carbon sequestration (considering standing trees, soil carbon, and forest products), can require longer rotations still. However the notion of replacing all young stands with old stands won’t maximize biodiversity. And don’t even get me started on the folly of converting sage grouse habitat in the Great Plains to forest.
    On my bookshelf is a copy of “Forest Stand Dynamics” by Chadwick D. Oliver and Bruce C. Larson.
    It’s a good resource for understanding natural forest processes and how to mimic them. Chadwick Oliver is the first author of the paper that I referred to at #38 above. Here’s another summary
    Note that the issue of rotation ages and biodiversity is addressed.

  42. 92
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Dr. Peter Ward addresses “Science Literacy” and public outreach as a REQUIREMENT for research scientists being hired at the University level. Dr. Ward addresses why only 40% of the U.S. population believe in Evolution, why 50% believe in alien abductions and less than half of Republicans believe or understand Climate Change. If you want to skip to the crux of the lecture go to 34:00 minute mark.

    Published on Nov 26, 2013

    Dr. Peter Ward presents the University of Washington’s 34th Annual Faculty Lecture on one of the most controversial topics of our times: global warming. Ward, a professor in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences and the Department of Biology at UW, asks just how serious are the actual threats from a warmed world and takes a look at clues from the rock and fossil record.

    Dr. Peter Ward, professor, Department of Earth and Space Sciences; professor, Department of Biology, University of Washington.

  43. 93
    Radge Havers says:

    There is a lot of activity in this area, if you look. Clearly scientists are aware of the issue– which is not to say that it shouldn’t be discussed. On the contrary, just… you know, try to keep it real.

    Joe Romm asked me to write a guest post introducing you to Climate Communication — a new science and outreach organization dedicated to improving public understanding of climate change science. Before I do that, I want to say that Joe does a remarkable job of keeping Climate Progress readers informed on an impressively wide variety of topics related to climate change. And he does so in a rapid response mode that is truly amazing. It’s the first site I send people to when they ask where they can go to keep up with what’s happening on a daily basis with climate change. We at Climate Communication are doing something different…


    The problem may lie in an inescapable tautology: to fully understand a scientific, taxonomic, objective conception of the natural world is to be so steeped in scientific idiom that poetics become impossible.

    And yet, there are those who are capable of communicating the invisible phenomena of science to the public. These people are essentially bilingual. The Sagans, the deGrasse Tysons, the E.O Wilsons; Angier, Attenborough, Carson and Greene; the radio producers, writers, filmmakers, documentarians, and public speakers; these are our human bridges, our storytellers, fluent in both big and small. It’s a specific skill, to be a gifted science communicator — that rare person who can straddle two divergent worlds without slipping into the void between the so-called “Two Cultures,” someone with hard facts in their mind and literary gems in their rhetoric.


    Again, scientists need to reveal their passion in order to evoke emotion with their audience to get the science “sticky”.
    etc., etc.

    I’m a fan of meta-literacy. Bunch of stuff out there on that too, though probably not enough.

    (may need to cut/paste some URLs)

  44. 94
    Lotharsson says:


    Frontiers have specifically said there were NO such threats ever made to them by anyone.”


    But given he claims “This ended the matter personally, as far as I was ..” then where is the THREAT today?

    The former statement may be spin indicating that no lawsuit had been filed at that point in time, whereas the live threat TODAY and into the future is presumably that one of the aggrieved will change their mind about pursuing legal action…

    …as Foxgoose essentially claims to have done now on one of the STW threads (although it’s entirely possibly he might change his mind back).

  45. 95
    Chuck Hughes says:

    I’ve been watching the Weather Channel talk about Climate Change all day. It looks like this latest shout by the IPCC may have struck home with a few in the media. Of course I’m not in any way convinced that governments around the world are going to join hands and start singing Kumbaya or that world peace will break out tomorrow but hey…. are we witnessing real progress here? Has anyone else taken note of this rather sudden change of direction in (some) media outlets?

    Also, I’m wondering if we still have time to avoid 2C or is that now a pipe dream? What would be a realistic achievable goal as far as GAT is concerned… provided the political will is there? Big question I know.


  46. 96
    DIOGENES says:

    Chuck Hughes #95,

    “Also, I’m wondering if we still have time to avoid 2C or is that now a pipe dream?”

    I’ve laid it out a number of times on the Diogenistic thread (Mar 2014 UV). We have time (in theory) to go even below 2 C, if we had the global will. The odds of actually doing that are somewhat below my chances of winning the $500M Powerball.

  47. 97
    Walter says:

    Much thanks to Chuck, Phil L, Killian (A Perfect Storm Cometh plus ur comments on other threads – well done!!!), Eric, and jg … good stuff.

    Pete Dunk. I did reply to your query but it got shafted too. Good luck.

  48. 98
    Chris Dudley says:

    Walter (#97),

    Your comments have not disappeared. Many, many can be read here:

  49. 99
    Pete Best says:

    CONFUSION regarding the most recent IPCC report on emissions reductions and their costs. Can we really mitigate/reduce emissions by the amounts cited in the report at a cost of only 0.6 global GDP?

    Surely this is not realistic economically and politically is the willing there globally. I guess it all comes down to Europe, USA and China but even so can fossil fuel companies or countries be persuaded to leave their resources in the ground for a new generation of energy sources that might not involve them?

    I know that the big issue is coal and its elimination is quite possible with alternative base load technologies but coal will not be singled out for reductions and oil will need to be targeted as well and alternatives to oil are not mature enough. First gen biofuels take food from the worlds poor and producing more means paying more for food, second gen biofuels are presently not a large enough reality and other alternatives are not available apart from electricity or fuel efficiency gains which will have an impact but will it be enough?

    So if we reduce emissions from 2 ppmv to 1 ppmv that does just delay the climate issue or change the game?

  50. 100
    Chris Dudley says:

    Kevin (#68),

    That is interesting. I see a potential conflict with the new source regulations that are already available to read:

    New renewable energy power should be regulated by those regulations. Putting solar panels on an existing coal plant’s roof and calling that compliance with the new regulations on existing stationary sources sources would seem a little squirrelly, like opening up a kissing booth by putting lipstick on a sow. Hope this does not turn into a recursive mess.